The ability to articulate a vision is critical to the development of a business that withstands the test of time. A Harvard Business Review article in 1996 spoke eloquently to the underpinnings of leadership success. The article argued that there is a way to develop a vision beyond the fuzzy concepts of what that means. The article found that “Companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed while their strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world”. Not surprisingly the companies that followed these two dynamics outperformed the market by a factor of 12 since 1925. And they did it while divesting themselves of some of the foundational businesses that had been their profit line for many years. These companies understood the difference between what should never change and what should be open for change or in other words what is cast in stone and what isn’t.
The article went on to describe the dynamics of this process as the “rare ability to manage continuity and change” as being closely linked to the ability to develop a vision”. After years of research the article concluded that a “well-conceived vision had two major components-a well-conceived ideology and an envisioned future. In their view the Core ideology defines what we stand for and why we exist. The envisioned future is what we aspire to become, to achieve and to create. No small task for talented leadership and an insurmountable one for those without leadership skills. Which certainly illustrates the complexity of leadership past, present and future. The good news is there are solutions to this challenge.
Leadership is not genetic and while aptitude is a factor it is just that – a factor. Leaders are not born they are made and that requires skills that are learned and developed over time with education, instruction, application and correction. At a critical juncture in my own life I was listening to a radio show as I was traveling in my car and the guest was Artie Shaw. For those of younger generations than I, Artie Shaw was a famous band leader of the big band era who was at the end of his career. The radio host suggested that it must be wonderful to be a genius like Shaw. With the utmost humility, Shaw replied that he didn’t believe he was a genius but suggested that he knew how to become one if that is what you wanted. He told the radio host that all you had to do was find someone that was a genius (whatever that meant), make him a friend, follow him around and watch what he did and then Do It. Age had given him the wisdom to understand that his path to greatness came from a very simple process that could be repeated by virtually anyone.
The message is simple. If you want to build a business that endures the test of time and the inevitable changes it brings, you will need to become a real leader. And to do that will require you to find people who are leaders and know why they are leaders and then learn what they do and DO IT!
If you are interested in building a sustainable business we offer a free 2 hour leadership development workshop that is likely to be the best investment of time you ever make in your career. To discuss this further please contact Barney Kramer, 209.444.6549, or firstname.lastname@example.org.